Monthly Archives: December 2012

Rita Levi-Montalcini has left the building

Nobel-prize winning neuroscientist Rita Levi-Montalcini has passed away at the age of 103, just a few months after publishing her last scientific study. She won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of nerve growth factor along with her colleague Stanley Cohen and continued worked well past the time when most people would have retired. Her […]

In other news: behind the video game scare

The research on the psychological impact of video games tells quite a different story from the stories we get from interest groups and the media. I look at what we know in an article for The Observer. Perhaps the two biggest concerns are that video games are ‘damaging the brain’ and that violent video games […]

A depressing financial justification

One of the most controversial changes to the recently finalised DSM-5 diagnostic manual was the removal of the ‘bereavement exclusion’ from the diagnosis of depression – meaning that someone could be diagnosed as depressed even if they’ve just lost a loved on The Washington Post has been investigating the financial ties of those on the […]

The stem cell scammers

Ukraine has become a world centre for untested stem cell treatments where patients can fly in and have embryonic stem cells implanted in their brain to supposedly treat everything from Alzheimer’s disease to autism. These treatments are entirely unproven and are illegal in most of the world but are available for anyone wanting to pay […]

Darwin’s asylum

Shrewsbury School is one of the oldest public schools in England and it makes much of being the institution that schooled Charles Darwin and introduced him to science. While the famous naturalist was certainly a pupil there he probably never set foot inside the building that the famous school now occupies because during Darwin’s time […]

BBC Column: when you want what you don’t like

My BBC Future column from Tuesday. The original is here. It’s a Christmas theme folks, but hopefully I cover an interesting research area too: Berridge, Robinson and colleagues’ work on the wanting/liking distinction. As the holiday season approaches, Tom Stafford looks at festive overindulgence, and explains how our minds tell us we want something even […]

A very psychological chocolate

A familiar sight amid the Christmas supermarket shelves is the box of Black Magic chocolates. It’s a classic product that’s been familiar to British shoppers since the 1930s but less well known is the fact that it was entirely designed by psychologists. The chocolates were produced by Rowntree’s who were a pioneer in using empirical […]

BBC Column: political genes

Here’s my BBC Future column from last week. The original is here. The story here isn’t just about politics, although that’s an important example of capture by genetic reductionists. The real moral is about how the things that we measure are built into our brains by evolution: usually they aren’t written in directly, but as […]

A smoother flow

BBC Radio 1Xtra has just broadcast a fantastic programme about the rapper Scorzayzee who disappeared from the UK scene after, as it turned out, experiencing psychosis and being diagnosed with schizophrenia. It’s a brilliant piece that not only tells the story of Scorzayzee but also cheekily tackles mental health in men – something which is […]

Fashions fade, style is eternal

A fascinating study has just mapped which brain areas are most popular among scientists and which are most likely to get you published in the highest impact journals. The image below looks like the result of an fMRI scan but instead of showing brain activity from a single experiment, it shows the average brain activity […]

Relax ladies, I’m a scientist

A while ago I wrote a column in The Psychologist on why psychologists don’t do participant observation research – a type of data gathering where you immerse yourself in the activities of those you want to study. In response, psychologist James Hartley wrote in and mentioned a remarkable study from 1938 where researchers hid under […]

The grief problem

I’ve got an article in The Observer about the sad history of how psychologists have misunderstood grief and why it turns out to be much more individual than traditional theories have suggested. As well as the individual variations, it also riffs on the massive diversity of cultural grief and mourning practices. At the beginning of […]

The DSM-5 has been finalised

It’s arcane, contradictory and talks about invisible entities which no-one can really prove. Yes folks, the new psychiatric bible has been finalised. The American Psychiatric Association have just announced that the new diagnostic manual, to be officially published in May 2013, has been approved by the board of trustees. You can read the official announcement […]

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